March 01, 2024


Hub Arkush: Justin Fields had a good day in Vegas but the big win went well beyond him

An unlikely hero entered his name for comeback of the year

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy celebrates after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

LAKE FOREST — So what are we to make of the Bears’ 20-9 win over the Raiders on Sunday? What does it tell us about the team going forward?

For starters, can we please not bury the lede?

In today’s all-Justin Fields, all-the-time-world, these Bears seem forced to exist in, he was not the biggest story in Vegas.

He had a good day, to be sure, showing exceptional toughness, great leadership, made plays when he had to and took another nice step forward in his development.

But the upset of the Raiders was not a “Justin Fields win,” and we have to be able to see that as simple, objective analysis without pretending it has any negative connotations around the young QB.

As much as we are often made to feel it’s heresy to say anything good about the man, the Bears’ beatdown of the Raiders was a “Matt Nagy win.”

If the guy is going to take the beating, and Lord knows he has when he’s deserved it, then you have to give him the credit when he’s earned it.

Do you remember your Bears 15 days ago, coming home from Cleveland?

Here’s what another Sunday hero, tight end Jesper Horsted, had to say about that.

“It’s huge. It’s a big difference to be .500 and then be above .500,” he said. “You could hear the locker room from here, I’m sure. “It was one of the most exciting postgames I’ve been a part of.

“I think the guys are really rolling right now.”

Safety Eddie Jackson added his two cents.

“Just the resilience we have,” he said. “Guys lock in, we block out all the noise, and we rally around each other and continue to fight. When things don’t go good, we don’t blame or point a finger, we put our head down and we continue to fight and continue to go out there and compete and make plays.”

If the head coach isn’t first in line for that credit, who can be?

And consider how Nagy has done it, making himself the first guy under the bus by handing off play-calling to Bill Lazor, and then helping Lazor throw out huge chunks of his “Kansas City” offense.

Should it have happened much sooner? Of course it should have, but get over it. It’s happening now.

After Sunday’s game, Nagy said, “This was one of my favorite team wins because it was so complementary.”

Asked Monday how he feels about these Bears now, Nagy said, “I think you adapt to your personnel that you have.

“What I like is that I think we have a really good mix right now within our offense of ways to get to things if they shut something down. We’re able to get to it because we have some multiplicity within the offense.

“I’m good with it. I like it.”

He also was more than good with showering praise on Lazor.

What does he think his team’s identity is now?

“That we fight, plain and simple. I don’t make it hard. I just make it real simple, and these guys, they fight,” Nagy said. “They don’t care what’s going on other than it’s a brotherhood. They talked about it in there.

“These guys love each other, and when you love each other, man, you play hard for each other. It’s crazy how that works.”

Sunday in Las Vegas was the first time we’ve seen Matt Nagy head coach in full bloom on the sidelines rather than Matt Nagy offensive guru, and over the past 24 hours, he’s continued to wear it well.

Now, how much staying power it will have and what it means for the future remains an open question.

But for now, at last there is hope.

I’ve argued since training camp there is too much talent on this team for them not to be a potential playoff club if enough things changed and enough went right.

The past 14 days certainly don’t erase the past 3 1/2 years.

But plenty has changed in the past couple of weeks, and now we all just have to hope that what happened in Vegas, at least this one time, doesn’t stay there and that Nagy made sure to bring this new head coach back with him.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush was the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and